Ass-breaker Dingus Magee is looking for a gold train when he comes upon old acquaintance Hoke Birdsill on stage to San Francisco, and robs him of his money. Hoke goes to the nearby town of Yerkey's Hole, where Belle Knops is both mayor and bordello-mistress. She appoints Hoke Town Sheriff and tries to get him to stir up the Indians so the soldiers at the nearby fort (the main customers) won't go to Little Big Horn. Dingus tries to stir up more trouble and get involved with the pale, baby-talking Indian, Anna. The film is a send-up of the oft-repeated phrase "the Code of the West" and exaggerates it and what it stands for into the ridiculousness that it is.
I am normally not a stickler for traditional settings in opera productions. Tosca ’s act II, for instance, with Scarpia and Tosca together and Cavaradossi nearby being tortured, or act III, with first Cavaradossi alone in captivity, then he and Tosca together with the firing squad, can be performed in many different settings and certainly be effective. Act I, however, is set by the librettists and composer Puccini in a church, and it must be played in a church or chapel or the like, because there are just too many references in the libretto and in the music itself to get by with anywhere else. This DVD production from the Zurich Opera House directed by Robert Carsen inanely sets the first act in the auditorium of a theater (with folding chairs no less) and starts to lose all credibility almost immediately…FANFARE: Bill White
Obsessive in gambling and in love, the soldier Hermann is the protagonist of Tchaikovsky’s Pique Dame, based on a story by Pushkin. He is smitten with the aristocratic Lisa and fixated on learning the winning secret of ‘the three cards’ from her grandmother, the Countess, played by iconic contralto Ewa Podles. This opulent production from Barcelona’s Liceu captures St Petersburg in the era of Catherine the Great, while the house’s Music Director Michael Boden conducts a large and impressive cast.